Rome Restaurants

In Rome, the Eternal(ly culinarily conservative) City, simple yet traditional cuisine reigns supreme. Most chefs prefer to follow the mantra of freshness over fuss, and simplicity of flavor and preparation over complex cooking techniques.

Rome has been known since antiquity for its grand feasts and banquets, and dining out has alway been a favorite Roman pastime. Until recently, the city's buongustaii (gourmands) would have been the first to tell you that Rome is distinguished more by its enthusiasm for eating out than for a multitude of world-class restaurants—but this is changing. There is an ever-growing promotion of slow-food practices, a focus on sustainably and locally sourced produce. The economic crisis has forced the food industry in Rome to adopt innovative ways to maintain a clientele who are increasingly looking to dine out but want to spend less. The result has been the rise of "street food" restaurants, selling everything from inexpensive and novel takes on the classic supplì (Roman fried-rice balls) to sandwich shops that use a variety of organic ingredients.

Generally speaking, Romans like Roman food, and that’s what you’ll find in many of the city’s trattorias and wine bars. For the most part, today’s chefs cling to the traditional and excel at what has taken hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years to perfect. This is why the basic trattoria menu is more or less the same wherever you go. And it's why even the top Roman chefs feature their versions of simple trattoria classics like carbonara, and why those who attempt to offer it in a "deconstructed" or slightly varied way will often come under criticism. To a great extent, Rome is still a town where the Italian equivalent of "What are you in the mood for?" still gets the answer, "Pizza or pasta."

Nevertheless, Rome is the capital of Italy, and because people move here from every corner of the Italian peninsula, there are more variations on the Italian theme in Rome than you'd find elsewhere in Italy: Sicilian, Tuscan, Pugliese, Bolognese, Marchegiano, Sardinian, and northern Italian regional cuisines are all represented. And reflecting the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of the city, you'll find a growing number of good-quality international foods here as well—particularly Japanese, Indian, and Ethiopian.

Oddly enough, though, for a nation that prides itself on la bella figura ("looking good"), most Romans don't fuss about music, personal space, lighting, or decor. After all, who needs flashy interior design when so much of Roman life takes place outdoors, when dining alfresco in Rome can take place in the middle of a glorious ancient site or a centuries-old piazza?

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  • 1. Moma

    $$$ | Piazza di Spagna | Italian

    Across the street from Hotel Aleph, a favorite of the design trendoisie , modern, Michelin-starred Moma attracts well-heeled businessmen at...Read More

  • 2. Ristorante Nino

    $$$ | Piazza di Spagna | Italian

    Almost more of a landmark than an eatery, Nino has been a favorite among international journalists and the rich and famous since the 1960s and...Read More

  • 3. Roscioli

    $$ | Campo de' Fiori | Wine Bar

    The shop in front of this wine bar will beckon you in with top-quality comestibles like hand-sliced cured ham from Italy and Spain, more than...Read More

  • 4. Settembrini

    $$ | Prati | Italian

    The modern, intimate dining room here hints at what to expect from the kitchen and staff: elegant and restrained cooking, friendly yet unobtrusive...Read More

  • 5. Acquolina

    $$$ | Piazza del Popolo | Seafood

    This Michelin-starred restaurant turns out delicious and high-quality seafood dishes reflecting, for the most part, the time-honored Italian...Read More

  • 6. Baccano

    $$ | Quirinale | Italian

    There are plenty of options for good food at reasonable prices around the Trevi Fountain, but this large brasserie is a good bet, and is open...Read More

  • 7. Caffè Propaganda

    $$ | Celio | Café

    Black and white tiles create the atmosphere of a Parisian brasserie at this hip all-day bar/restaurant, but the heart of the large food menu...Read More

  • 8. Hostaria da Cesare

    $$ | Prati | Italian

    An old standby in Prati, Hostaria da Cesare is dedicated to Roman culinary tradition. The general menu's tendency toward hearty, stick-to-your...Read More

  • 9. La Rosetta

    $$$$ | Piazza Navona | Seafood

    Chef-owner Massimo Riccioli may have taken the nets and fishing gear off the walls of the trattoria he inherited from his parents, but this...Read More

  • 10. Piperno

    $$ | Jewish Ghetto | Italian

    The place to go for Rome's extraordinary carciofi alla giudia, Piperno has been in business since 1860. The location, up a tiny hill in a piazza...Read More

  • 11. Pipero al Rex

    $$$ | Repubblica | Italian

    In the lobby of Hotel Rex, not far from Termini station, this Michelin-starred restaurant is a winning collaboration between well-known Roman...Read More

  • 12. Take Sushi

    $$ | Trastevere | Japanese

    An increasingly familiar sight on the streets of Rome are all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurants, popular for their inexpensive prices–-but Take...Read More

  • 13. Trimani Il Winebar

    $$ | Repubblica | Wine Bar

    This wine bar is run by the Trimani family of wine merchants, whose shop next door has been in business for nearly two centuries. Hot food is...Read More

  • 14. Tullio

    $$$ | Quirinale | Italian

    Just off Piazza Barberini, this upscale trattoria has been serving Tuscan classics since 1950. They specialize in high-quality meat dishes including...Read More

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